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Google Digital Library Plan Opposed by German Chancellor

Let me highlight a few excerpts from Google digital library plan opposed by Angela Merkel: German chancellor opposes the internet firm’s attempt to put every book ever written online:

German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday waded into the row over Google’s plans to build a massive digital library.

The move was a remarkable intervention from a leading world politician in a growing dispute about the threat posed by the internet, and Google in particular, to publishing companies, authors and also newspapers.

In her weekly video podcast, before the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair this week, Merkel appealed for more international co-operation on copyright protection and said her government opposed Google’s drive to create online libraries full of scanned books.

“The German government has a clear position: copyrights have to be protected on the internet,” Merkel said, adding that there were “considerable dangers” for copyright protection online.

Isn’t this astonishing? I thought “the goal” of copyright was to promote the spread and growth of human creativity. Now it appears “the goal” is to protect copyright itself. This reminds of government school advocates who say they “believe in public school”; who oppose any attempt to reform or privatize public school because it might threaten public schooling–when the goal of public schools is supposed to be education. Google’s “plan would make millions of out-of-print books available online and thus would not cannibalise existing sales, as those books were not readily available to buyers. Google argues that it is increasing access to works that would otherwise never see the light of the day.” But the state fears the unregulated behavior of free people. Who knows what people might do with this information? If you let people freely connect and communicate in a digital world, the state’s copyright and other regulations might not even reach them! And we can’t have that!

So these atavistic brutes want to kept information locked up in musty paper because of a fear that some people might learn things without dropping a nickel in the Galambosian box. If they don’t understand it, if they can’t control it–Hulk smash! Doesn’t this recall the heartless zeal of drug warriors who are willing to deny suffering people medical marijuana because the only way to effectively outlaw recreational marijuana use is to allow no exceptions. And we have to prevent recreational marijuana use… don’t we? We have to protect copyright, don’t we? We have to have government education, don’t we? I mean, who can imagine the horrors of a dystopian world where people were free to use marijana; where they had hundreds of millions of books available any time, at their fingertips; where states are not able to brainwash and propagandize students in their little loyalty-factories.

[LRC cross-post; AgainstMonopoly cross-post]

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